PepsiAmericas Inc. has posted a five-fold rise in income for Q4. The beverage bottler credits the huge climb to improved pricing worldwide and better cost management in its international operations. There was also an additional week in the quarter and charges in the year-on-year period.

The company yesterday reported net income of US$37m, the equivalent in diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.26. This compares to US$7.3 million, or $0.05 a share a year earlier.

Full year 2003 net income hit US$157.6m, or EPS of $1.09. Full year 2002 net income was $129.7m, or EPS of $0.85.

The additional week of operating performance contributed US$3.1m to net income.

Worldwide operating income in the fourth quarter of 2003 more than doubled to $74.1m from the fourth quarter in 2002. The additional week of operating results contributed $4.9m to operating income.

In a statement, chairman and CEO Robert C. Pohlad said: "I am pleased with our overall performance in 2003. We gained momentum throughout the year, improving our performance through disciplined pricing, cost management programs and excellent execution in the marketplace. These drivers contributed to achieving profitability in our combined international operations one year ahead of our stated goal."

Looking forward, PepsiAmericas expects to achieve full year 2004 EPS growth, in the range of 6% to 8%, or EPS of $1.05.

"Our operating performance in the second half of 2003 positions us well as we move into 2004," said Pohlad. "We believe that the key drivers to PepsiAmericas' 2003 success will again contribute to our performance this year. We will continue to focus diligently on generating cash flow and improving our return on invested capital to create additional shareholder value."

On a full-year basis, PepsiAmericas now expects worldwide volume growth of approximately 1% and overall net pricing improvement in the 2% to 3% range. With the continuation of a cost containment program initiated early in 2003, the company expects to see cost increases around 3% to 4%.